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What is a Museum?

Leeds City Museum

Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society is a charity founded in 1819. It was created with the purpose to “promote the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the City of Leeds and elsewhere.” The society collected objects which now form a significant portion of exhibitions within the Leeds City Museum.

Leeds City Museum

Leeds City Museum (LCM) is part of the Leeds Museums and Galleries group which includes nine different sites. Similar to many large museums, LCM is split into several different galleries (rooms/ spaces you can visit) each of which have a particular theme. They include

  • Life on Earth: Learn about animals, vegetables and minerals, from tigers to polar bears, butterflies to beetles.
  • World View: A gallery celebrating the sights, sounds and diversity of the Asian communities in the city.
  • The Leeds Story: Discover the fascinating history of Leeds including surprising inventions, sporting accolades and incredible textile heritage.
  • Ancient Worlds: Find out how the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks lived their lives and paved the way for the world as we know it in the Ancient Worlds gallery.

At Leeds City Museum there is also a temporary exhibition space which changes on a regular basis. This space has hosted lots of different themed exhibitions in this space including:

  • Fashion
  • Animal homes and habitats
  • Famous authors

Photograph showing part of a fashion exhibition with clothes on stands
A View of the 'Fast X Slow' Shopping in Leeds Exhibition

These exhibitions were designed by a curator who has specialist knowledge in the topic on display. As well as having specialist knowledge, a curator is often responsible for the following duties within a museum;

  • Looking after museum collection
  • Deciding what objects will go into the museum galleries
  • Choosing what themes museum galleries will have
  • Deciding what information an object will have with it, either through labels, images, maps, games and other forms.
  • Carrying out research behind a particular topic or theme so they can educate the public and their colleagues about it.

When a new object comes into a museum collection, the curators are responsible for choosing what category or collection it belongs to. The object is then added it to a digital database so objects will be easy to find in the future.

In the video below, Milo, assistant curator of Entomology at Leeds Museums and Galleries, talks about a museum database.